Journal Article

Novel mechanism for obesity-induced colon cancer progression

Janette M. Birmingham, Julia V. Busik, Fay M. Hansen-Smith and Jenifer I. Fenton

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 30, issue 4, pages 690-697
Published in print April 2009 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online February 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Novel mechanism for obesity-induced colon cancer progression

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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Adipose tissue secretes factors linked to colon cancer risk including leptin. A hallmark of cancer is sustained angiogenesis. While leptin promotes angiogenesis in adipose tissue, it is unknown whether leptin can induce epithelial cells to produce factors that may drive angiogenesis, vascular development and therefore cancer progression. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of leptin-stimulated colon epithelial cells differing in adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) genotype (gatekeeper tumor suppressor gene for colon cancer) on angiogenesis. We employed novel colonic epithelial cell lines derived from the Immorto mouse [young adult mouse colon (YAMC)] and the Immorto-Min mouse [Immorto-Min colonic epithelial cell (IMCE)], which carries the Apc Min mutation, to study the effects of leptin-stimulated colon epithelial cells on angiogenesis. We utilized ex vivo rat mesenteric capillary bioassay and human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) models to study angiogenesis. IMCE cells stimulated with leptin produced significantly more vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) than YAMC (268 ± 18 versus 124 ± 8 pg/ml; P < 0.01) cells. Leptin treatment induced dose-dependent increases in VEGF only in IMCE cells. Conditioned media from leptin (50 ng/ml)-treated IMCE cells induced significant capillary formation compared with control, which was blocked by the addition of a neutralizing antibody against VEGF. Conditioned media from leptin-treated IMCE cells also induced HUVEC cell proliferation, chemotaxis, upregulation of adhesion proteins and cell-signaling activation resulting in nuclear factor kappa B nuclear translocation and DNA binding due to VEGF. This is the first study demonstrating that leptin can induce preneoplastic colon epithelial cells to orchestrate VEGF-driven angiogenesis and vascular development, thus providing a specific mechanism and potential target for obesity-associated cancer.

Journal Article.  6575 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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